We need meetings. We need them at work because when they work, they are valuable. Clear actions get set, decisions are made and the whole business moves forward.
But what we don’t need is for meetings to waste our time, money and resources.
What we need is a 25-minute meeting. A meeting that is short, sharp and productive. A meeting that gets the job done efficiently. A meeting that gets more value in way less time.
Stop for a minute and look at your calendar. How many of your meetings are 60 minutes or more? By choosing to do 25-minute meetings, you will free up a large chunk of time to get your day-to-day work done. Or even just have space to think!
Too often I have heard people say that they spend all day in meetings, so their evenings(when they should be with their families, friends or enjoying leisure time) are spent doing their actual work or catching up on emails they have missed.
With 25-minute meetings, your team members and colleagues will thank you for the time you gift them back.
Much of the data available says that between 25 and 67 per cent of us say meetings are a waste of time.
For example, a Harvard survey of 182 senior managers in a range of industries found:
» 65 per cent said meetings keep them from completing their own work
» 71 per cent said meetings are unproductive and inefficient
» 64 per cent said meetings come at the expense of deep
» 62 per cent said meetings miss opportunities to bring the team closer together.
We sit through meetings, wishing we were somewhere else, doing something else.
How to slim back to 25 minutes
Let’s start by looking at a typical meeting scenario.
You may show up on time, while others may not. Maybe they(oreven you) rock up 10 to 15 minutes late with a few excuses about why others are not coming.
Then the meeting starts with questions about the agenda that no-one has seen and/or some are disputing.
You finally get started on the first item and there is some active discussion that chews up 15 minutes, and you still have a further three items to get through.
So, the remaining agenda items are rushed through before two people stand up and say they need to leave to get to their next meeting, which they are already late for.
That’s 25 minutes of productive meeting at best.
So, let’s explore what our bad meeting habits actually cost us:
» waiting for latecomers:(atleast) 5 minutes
» wondering about the agenda: 5 minutes
» waffling and going off track: 5 minutes
» watching mobile phones or PCs: 5 minutes
» wasting time on fixing tech: 5 minutes.
There’s 25 minutes RIGHT THERE that you could recover if you got rid of bad meeting habits, and I think I’ve been generous with time here. We frequently spend more than 5 minutes on some of these things.
See for yourself. In your next meeting, keep a tally of how many minutes are actually spent being productive.
That means taking note of time where there is open discussion and debate, when decisions are made, relevant information is shared and problems are solved.
I believe you will be lucky to make it to 25 minutes.
Renowned sculptor Michelangelo is reputed to have said that the statue of David was already in the block of marble, so all he had to do was take away the parts that weren’t David:‘Isaw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free’.
Useful and purposeful meetings are already there in the form of 25 minutes. You just need to chisel away the bits that‘aren’tDavid’.
Making the decision to do 25-minute meetings is at the heart of your success with this. From now on, it’s about how we can do meetings better.
To run effective 25 minute meetings you need to:
Set yourself and others up for success. Be clear about why you are there, who you need and how we will conduct the meeting.
Show up to the meeting, ready to cooperate. Ensure everyone has done the pre-work and be ready for the discussion. Start and end the meeting on time. There is no repetition or make-up for latecomers. No laptops or phones in the meeting; it’s 25 minutes of focused discussion.
Step up in the meeting to communicate and contribute. People need to Feel comfortable quickly, to bring their genius to the table, share their insights, ask quality questions and engage in the meeting. Use the meeting to enhance the work, not prevent anyone from doing‘realwork’. Follow through on commitments and actions after the meeting to hold people accountable.